You don't need much more proof that good things come in small packages than long-running pint-sized cocktail bar Romeo Lane. But owner Joe Jones is happy to give you some anyway.
He has teamed up with chef Sam Stafford (Momofuku Seiobo, Town Mouse, Clever Polly's) to open a new charcoal-fuelled venture. Located in the heart of Fitzroy, Mono-XO clocks in at just 25 seats — it's his smallest venue yet.
Opening in the former Cafe Rosamund site, Mono-XO is a high-energy bar with a rock 'n' roll attitude that defies its size. Bold flavours and careful technique meet laid-back party vibes in a space that's cosy, moody and loud.
The food menu has a Japanese lean, featuring lots of things cooked on sticks over coals (aka yakitori). It's fun, contemporary and entirely gluten-free, with a solid spread of vegan and vegetarian bites to boot. Expect plenty of salt, spice and smoke across a lineup best enjoyed with a crafty drink in hand.
As for that crafty drink, you can pick one off a compact list of highballs, natural wines and imported Japanese drops from Sake Connect, with some of Jones' own easy-drinking creations headlining the cocktail list. And, since it wouldn't be a true rock 'n' roll joint without a respectable tinnie range, you'll find a rotation of cans from Orbost's Sailors Grave Brewing.
Images: Kristoffer Paulsen